Today, We are sharing with you an interview with fathering-survivor Jeff Glover. Jeff is a father to two, an active member of the malesurvivor.org community and a writer of poetry at rendered heart. Jeff’s answers to our questions open my eyes to many ideas I had never considered, which is exactly what we had hoped for with this interview series. Thank you Jeff, for being a part of this important conversation.
1. Before becoming a father, did you look forward to becoming a parent?
As a young man I totally wanted to be a dad. It seems odd to say but I wanted to know it could be done. My father was verbally and emotionally abusive and even outside the sexual abuse my life was confusion …chaos really. I had tremendous fears about it but I wanted kids much more than a wife! Dealing with adults has always been more difficult for me and especially women because my first abusers were women. By far the hardest part was finding a woman who could deal with me where I was then.
2. How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a father? Did you have any specific fears and/or joys?
When I found out my wife was pregnant my biggest fear was that my wife and I might not remain married. The thought of not being there always to protect my child, and the idea of someone else touching them or caring for them was terrifying. Further along in the pregnancy when some difficulties came along, the guilt was unbearable.
3. Were there any triggers that came up for you while your partner was pregnant?
Sex did this… I did this and now it was going to destroy the one person who could love me. Once again sex had proven dangerous and ultimately an enemy. I hated myself for doing that to her. Any real joy about the pregnancy was shut down immediately. I knew that if something happened to make us lose [the baby], I could never bear that and so I wouldn’t engage. There was a constant fear that I was not good enough to be a dad, that I would become a victimizer. And all of the medical touching and probing of the body it was like I gave her to the abusers. To this day the day my first child was born is to me …. The worst day I EVER lived through.
“I learned that as I teach my child, I learn a lot more myself…. If I will listen”
4. What has surprised you most about parenthood?
What surprised me most was that I was good enough. It surprised me that the do over was possible and that because I knew so much of what not to do it helped me to know what to do. It surprised me that even though I would freak at ANY imagined inappropriate touch or anything like it. I could play with them and wrestle and give them the attention I so wanted. It surprised me that there are ways to keep myself sane and still see them grow and be healthy.
5. What acts of parenting have led you to be triggered? Have you learned anything from these triggers about your own fears, or the parts of you that still need healing?
I found that being angry with the kids was triggering to me. I never allowed myself to discipline the kids while angry and felt compelled to explain in great detail what the discipline was all about. My own parents, my mother specifically lashed out in a rage and hit me with anything that was handy and it made the whole experience insane to me and touching was nearly UN allowed. I found that I was compelled to hug my kids and show intense affection. All of the interactions with my children taught me a LOT about areas of my life that were still raw. Unfortunately, it took me many years to seek help.
6. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your child(ren)?
I have learned more lessons than I can count. I have learned what trust looks like, and love that is truly safe. I learned that what I can manage to give to a life can pay back many fold. That God exists and that he is amazing. I learned that as I teach my child, I learn a lot more myself…. If I will listen
7. What would you tell another survivor father who is expecting their first child?
I would tell him to brace himself! The journey has been the most intense that anyone could imagine. But for all the pain and fear and yes face it the vampire syndrome you are not destined to be like them. In fact, the do over is possible. We can imagine what it might have been like to be untouched and give our kids that opportunity, but do beware there is an odd jealousy that happens sometimes, a longing for our past to have been different.
Jeff is a father of two and a moderator for malesurvivor.org, where men from around the world come together to share their experiences and help each other heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. He is also a writer, using poetry to express the chaos of emotions felt by many survivors of abuse, helping others to connect with deeper hurts they find difficult to express. Through his talent with words, strong faith and the support of his loving wife, Jeff works with the team at malesurvivor.org to help forge a path to healing for thousands of men. To see more of his work and connect with other brave survivors, please head to www.rendedheartpoetry.wordpress.com and look out for Jeff’s first book which he is diligently working toward finishing”
To hear more about the unique challenges parenting survivors face, get your copy of Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, available on Amazon.
Here’s what readers are saying:
“The book so many of us looked for and craved and ached for. And couldn’t find.” ~Christine W.
“I work as a psychologist and a researcher. …This book made me a better researcher because it gave me dozens of hints to study different aspects of abused parents’ emotions.
But most importantly, it made a better father because it helped me reflect on my experience as a parent through the memories of my own childhood.” ~Luca
“This book has been a life changing revelation for me!”
“What I find most impressive – aside from the raw, honest writing – is how the editors chose to include journal prompts and several different types of resources for readers. This is a workbook, really. Incredibly well-written and thoughtfully arranged.” Beth T.
“Finally a book where parents who have experience CSA can go from essay to poem to essay and say “me too.” ~Lara